This Is December
By Don Bernal

November was a great month. A lot happened, it moved along briskly, deftly avoiding the pitfalls of those other, weaker, months. It truly was a month for turning over a new leaf, and happily, it wasn't an old dry crumbly leaf, but a thriving, green one. Barely hanging on, but you wouldn't know it by the way it was dancing with the wind. So many opportunities, new beginnings, rebirths of body, mind, and soul; November was a great month. It ended.

I sat, waiting for the question I couldn't answer. I knew I couldn't answer it, which perhaps made it a bit easier to wait for. Still, as song after song dragged along, each verse suddenly longer that the previous, I waited for the voice to ask me what I didn't know. Then each song ended, and I didn't want her speak. The loud, expressive, pleasing, soothing voice danced across the air, a party right out of my headphones. She teased, going on and on about the next song, probably still waiting for it to get cued up, and right as the first noted came, she reminds us that she'll ask the trivia question tonight, and to wait. I sat, and looked around. The wide blue-gray street was empty, which isn't unusual this late tonight. The large lampposts carefully shielded me from the encompassing dark; I looked to the left of the bench, and saw the 7-11, which was like a Las Vegas Hotel: bright, loud, inviting. The parking lot had three cars spread spaciously, and I noticed midnight gamblers looking for a snack and some lights. I turned to my right, the Culture Club still lazily strumming along, Boy George crooning over who knows what. If you have to ask, it seems to me, then I think they're going to hurt you regardless of what you say. The street extended well beyond the comfort of my street lamp, signaling a cautious message to my brain. No matter. As long I was within the embrace of the incandescence, the night could haunt someone else for now. I waited for Boy George to shut up, and then I wanted him to hold those last few notes a bit longer. She wasn't going to ask me anything I knew, yet I still played with the quarter and dime with my fingers. She welcomed me back, told me about the fantastic Culture Club, and announced the great prize in tonight's trivia. Concert tickets for next week. Great band. Great show. Worth staying up for. Here's the question:

I noticed a patch of weeds across the street. A clump growing out of a crack in the sidewalk, I suppose. Mother Nature popping up in the strangest places. A bit of green in our asphalt world. A clump of what-would-be-life, stuck in the middle of unwilling death. Weeds surviving, through the harshest environment around, a city that loves Boy George and cement walkways.

The guy who answered the question wasn't enthusiastic at all. He sounded resigned. He didn't deserve those tickets. So what if he knew crap, that was a poor way of showing off your knowledge. I had no clue what the answer was. The question she asked left me with a most impressive state of blank in my mind; had I glanced inside my head, I knew I would have seen a bunch of synapses looking around sheepishly, whistling forced tunes, humming, avoiding the trouble of not having a clue on how to do their jobs. I suppose I had only myself to blame, for not learning that particular piece of trivia. But trivia can't be learned; by its nature, it isn't worth learning. It was only worth two tickets to a concert. I sat, on a bench, waiting for the next song to play, waiting for the last bus to hopefully arrive, not knowing that November ended.

Back to the Story Page